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30 Mar 2004 16:49
The Democratic Alliance has accused the Eastern Cape African National Congress of “high decibel” intimidation after a bid on Tuesday to disrupt a DA meeting with a massive sound truck.
The truck, plastered with posters of President Thabo Mbeki, parked outside the Booysens Park Community Centre in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth and blasted the hall, where the DA’s lunch-time meeting was in progress, with a wall of sound for about 15 minutes.
A group of ANC supporters sang and danced alongside it, waving party flags and posters.
DA officials repeatedly asked their ANC counterparts, including Eastern Cape member of the provincial legislature Christian Martin, to move the truck away.
In the end, the vehicle left only after DA member of Parliament Tertius Delport complained to police on the scene, who videotaped the incident.
DA officials in the hall said the truck did not, however, disrupt the meeting, attended by about 1 000 largely coloured supporters.
Two weeks ago the ANC adopted similar tactics at a meeting addressed by United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa at Uitenhage, driving the sound truck slowly passed the stadium where the UDM meeting was taking place.
DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip said he would lay a complaint about Tuesday’s incident with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
This would be in addition to a complaint he had laid over an incident at Mzamomhle in East London on Saturday where the same truck was used in a bid to drown out a DA meeting.
Trollip said that ANC supporters there also threw stones at his car after the meeting.
“We can’t allow this kind of situation to carry on,” he said.
“This is the example that’s being sent to the rest of the province and the rest of the country.
“If there aren’t people around who can control those crowds, one spark can ignite it and this fragile democracy of ours could be sent up in flames.”
Inside the hall DA leader Tony Leon told cheering supporters that Mbeki was sanctimonious in calling for tolerance in the elections.
“Where is the tolerance from his own supporters?” he asked.
“The ANC supporters outside there underestimate us. They don’t understand that the battle cry of this party is ‘we fear nothing’.”
ANC member Martin, however, denied his party was disrupting the DA rally and said the vicinity of the hall had merely been a meeting point arranged with the Booysens Park Community for the start of a door-to-door campaign in the area.
Asked if he had been aware that the DA rally was to take place there, he said: “I’m so surprised to see these [DA] T-shirts here, because we feel that the DA are interrupting our programme here.”
“It’s out of order.
We must also lay a charge with the IEC.”
Asked how many decibels the truck’s banks of speakers could push out, ANC regional executive member Gege Mbikyane said: “It’s a lot.
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